by Brett Tolley - NAMA's Community Organizer
If we truly care about our oceans and our fisheries, then "WHO" fishes matters! The New England Fisheries Management Council has made clear that fleet reduction is a priority in order to reduce total catch. However, a Council vision for who staysand who goes is absent. We learned from the experience of US farm policy that consolidation without a vision resulted in large-scale factory farming corporations driving out family farmers and degrading the land based environment, biodiversity, and security of the food system in this country. As it did this, it also destroyed the fabric and vitality of farming communities in the heartland.
Consolidation without a vision could result in a small fleet of homogeneous large-scale boats that fish from only a few ports and use a narrow range of gear types, scale and sizes. We know fisheries around world that have consolidated without a vision didn't achieve the ecological outcomes promised during the process.
The Council needs a vision that reflects what we have learned to date so we do not repeat the same mistakes again.
The New England community has a Vision for "Who" should fish. Over a two-year visioning process, a diverse group of commercial and recreational fishermen from all geographical areas, boat sizes, and gear types came together with scientists, fisheries advocates, community members and shore-side businesses to create a long-term vision for the fleet. One of the participating fishermen said the Fleet Vision Project was as comprehensive and detailed an effort as New England had ever seen. The Vision for a diverse fleet states:
"A geographically distributed commercial and recreational fleet that includes all gear types and boat sizes. Clearly the community values and understands the need for many different boat sizes and gear types that provide diverse products to markets. The community strongly dislikes the possibility of a fleet that is consolidated either by ownership or geography, and participants in this project advocate many jobs and coastal community welfare over economic efficiency."
Tell Council that you support the Fleet Vision Project that calls for a diverse fleet by taking the PLEDGE. NAMA along with a team of fishermen and non-fishermen will be carrying your message to the Council this June 23. We need your support!